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Kevin Spraggett

Kevin Spraggett, Erts 2010
Full name Kevin Spraggett
Country Canada
Born 10 November 1954
Montreal, Canada
Title GM

Kevin Spraggett (born 10 November 1954) is a Canadian chess grandmaster. He is the fourth Canadian to earn the grandmaster title, after Abe Yanofsky, Duncan Suttles and Peter Biyiasas. Spraggett is the only Canadian to have qualified for the Candidates' level, having done so in 1985 and 1988. He has won a total of eight Canadian Open Chess Championships, seven Closed Canadian Chess Championships, and has represented Canada eight times in Olympiad play. Spraggett has also written for Canadian chess publications.

Chess career

Kevin Spraggett was raised in Montreal, he is one of seven children(his sister Wendy passed away at age 62 on September 19, 2015)

and began playing chess at age ten. He tied for first in the 1973-74 Junior Canadian Chess Championship, but lost the playoff match to John MacPhail. One of his key early tournament victories came in the 1974 Montreal Championship, where he scored 5½/6. He had reached national master strength by this time, just before his twentieth birthday. He attended McGill University, studying engineering, and was an excellent student; however, he left McGill before completing his degree, in favor of becoming a chess professional. Spraggett spent his early years developing his game in minor Canadian and American Swiss system open events, where the prizes were often low. His younger brother Grant is also a strong player, having earned the FIDE Master (FM) title.

He was awarded the IM title in 1975, following a second-place finish at the Zonal Canadian Chess Championship in Calgary; Peter Biyiasas won. Spraggett raised his game to meet the challenge of the powerful Soviet defector Igor V. Ivanov, who had settled in Montreal in the early 1980s. Those years saw Spraggett attain success in several strong tournaments, with victories in the 1983 World Open, 1984 Commonwealth Championship, 1984 New York Open, and 1985 Commonwealth Championship. He did not play an international-standard grandmaster round-robin tournament until Wijk aan Zee early in 1985, just after his thirtieth birthday, at which time he was the highest-rated IM in the world.

Spraggett won his first of seven Canadian titles in 1984, which qualified him into the Taxco Interzonal the next year. His fourth-place result at Taxco 1985, where he topped many more famous players, automatically earned the International Grandmaster title, and seeded him to the Candidates event, the first Canadian to achieve this. He came in last at Montpellier Candidates 1985, but qualified again for the next Candidates. He defeated Andrei Sokolov, then ranked third in the world, in a blitz playoff, in his first-round match at Saint John, 1988, lost in overtime games in the 1989 Candidates' quarterfinal round to Soviet grandmaster Artur Yusupov at Quebec City.

Spraggett has followed up with mostly superb performances in eight Chess Olympiads, eight victories in the Canadian Open Championship, and a host of tournament victories in Europe. Spraggett is widely considered to be the strongest chess player in Canadian history. His FIDE rating has been as high as 2633, in January 2007, at age 52, and in the late 1980s he was ranked consistently amongst the top 100 players in the world. Spraggett has lived in Portugal since the late 1980s, and plays most of his tournaments in Europe, although he visits North America every year or two on average, to compete there. His best recent finishes include a victory at the Figueira da Foz International Chess Festival (December 2008, with 7½/9) and a clear second place at the Calvià Open (in October 2007, with 7/9).


Playing style

Spraggett is a solid positional player, who has the capability of developing sharp tactics against any opponent, but generally these tactics flow naturally and harmoniously from the position, instead of being overly forced. During his career, he has essayed a very wide range of openings, from sharp Sicilian Defences with either color, to complex King's Indian and Dutch Defenses, to quieter lines such as the Caro-Kann and Queen's Indian Defences, and more subtle Réti and English Openings as White. This extensive range makes him very difficult to prepare for. Spraggett is also a strong endgame player. A true universalist of the chessboard, his style perhaps most closely resembles that of former World Champion Vasily Smyslov.

Notable chess games